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Two Long-Time Board Members Retire

After more than 20 years of service each, two long-time members of the Sun West School Division Board of Education are retiring.

Margaret Irwin (Subdivision No. 1) and Barb Cowell (Subdivision No. 8 – Town of Rosetown), have decided not to contest the upcoming Board of Education election scheduled for November 9. Both were members of the first Sun West Board, when the school division was formed in 2006, and both had previously been members of legacy school division Boards. Irwin was part of the Eston-Elrose Board and has 20 years of Board service while Cowell was with the Rosetown Board and has 23 years of Board service. In the picture above, Cowell is on the left and Irwin is on the right.

The Board meeting held October 27 in Rosetown was the last meeting for both members and they received a memorable farewell from their colleagues.

The other Board members praised the two women and repeatedly emphasized that they always put the interests of students first. They were described as “gracious,” “well-prepared,” “intuitive,” “reliable” and “passionate” and numerous comments were made about their ability to disagree without being disagreeable.

Scott Sander (Subdivision No. 5) said of Cowell that she was always “candid, straight-forward and would tell it like it is,” while he commented that Irwin “always weighed the benefits of both sides of an issue and always came out on the side of what was best for kids.”

Sue Lytle (Subdivision No. 4) indicated that she was in awe of both women. She said: “Your 20 years of volunteering, of sharing wisdom and of speaking your mind has been so valuable to the Board and the whole division.”

Karen Itterman (Subdivision No. 3), Ruth Griffith (Subdivision No. 9) and Sander, who along with Cowell and Irwin had been part of the original Sun West Board, shared stories about meeting them prior to Sun West’s formation and reflected on the hard work that had been done when the legacy school divisions were amalgamated into Sun West.

Some of the more recent additions to Board, John Collins (Subdivision No. 6), Robert Dewey (Subdivision No. 2) and Cathy Morrow (Subdivision No. 7) all expressed their admiration for Cowell and Irwin as well as respect for their strong grasp of the work of the Board and how welcoming they had been to new Board members. Collins commented that the board could “always count on you (Cowell) to have something to say and it provided an opportunity to make me think some more – and that’s a good thing.” He also commented that Irwin often made him think and after a while he would realize that was she said made “total sense.” Several Board members commented on Irwin’s impressive knowledge of boundary and busing issues.

The Board members all indicated that Cowell and Irwin were excellent colleagues who added a lot of fun to the Board experience and they would miss the positive energy they brought to meetings and other Board activities.

In her concluding remarks, Boar Chair Itterman stated: “You (Cowell and Irwin) made a difference in the lives of so many students. Everything you have done has been huge!”

Irwin and Cowell thanked the Board members for their support and friendship. Cowell stated: “that after 23 years, I am going to miss you guys. It will be weird not being part of the decision making for education but I know the school division is in good hands. Keep up the good work!” Irwin concluded: “It has been a big learning experience. It has been great to get to know everyone and I am going to miss it.”

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